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By Steven Inman
There are always a few players in fantasy drafts you circle as guys you’d love to have on your team. This isn’t that list … Sometimes you have to let your opponents make the mistakes, so here are a few players that could have their owners regretting draft night. All of these picks are based off of where these players are currently being drafted in standard points leagues. If these players fall a few rounds they can be an option.
Leonard is a wonderful player when on the court in the scarcest position in fantasy basketball (SF) but he’s clearly not 100 percent already, before a shot has hit the rim on the NBA season. The 7th year vet is already battling a quad injury and has been ruled out for opening night. Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have never cared about the regular season, resting entire starting lineups at times, so expect Leonard to get plenty of rest throughout the season. Leonard, 26, has never played in 75 games in a season in his career. Leonard is expected to go in the middle of the 1st round in drafts and while his upside is deserving of that, owners should look at safer options at the top of the draft.
When the Sixers had Embiid on the court they were a flat out different team a season ago. With that said, like Leonard, you can’t put up fantasy points if you are on the bench. Embiid has played in just 31 games in his 3-year NBA career and while he has a high ceiling, the 3rd round price tag he will likely require looks like too big of a risk. The Sixers already have a minute restriction for the 23-year old and that’s with Embiid fully healthy.
Middleton is a nice player who can stuff the box score but he is being drafted as high as the 3rd round in drafts because of his multi-positional eligibility. Middleton played in just 29 games last season in an injury riddled year and in his absence Giannis Antetokounmpo blossomed as a superstar who needs his ball in his hands as much as possible. Middleton is clearly at best the 2nd option with the Bucks, so drafting him like he’s Milwaukee’s #1 option probably isn’t wise.
Crowder is coming off a career year in Boston but now in Cleveland he’s at best the 4th or 5th scoring option behind LeBron James, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade and eventually Isaiah Thomas. Fantasy Basketball isn’t just about talent, it’s about opportunity and Crowder won’t be relied on to score as much as he was in Boston. He’s also not going to rebound as well as he did last year in a lackluster Celtics frontcourt, with Love and Tristan Thompson gobbling up rebounds. Crowder looks like the forgotten man in Cleveland’s offense but is being drafted as high as the 7th round in some leagues.
Another Spurs player on this list, as the Spurs No. 2 guy continues to get up there in age, but his average draft position is similar to where it’s been in years past. Aldridge’s points and rebounds per game have decreased in each of the last 2 seasons. Popovich’s concern is getting Aldridge, Leonard and other key Spurs capable of playing big minutes in the playoffs so expect Aldridge to be rested on occasion when the Spurs play back-to-backs. You don’t want to be the owner holding Aldridge when the 32-year old completely fades away from fantasy usefulness.